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17 Easy Ways to Extend Lesson Activities On the Spot

activity grammar listening reading stt student talking time vocabulary Oct 11, 2021

Part of being an effective teacher is being able to make a decision on the spot to extend an activity or increase the difficulty right then and there. Fortunately, this is a skill that you can hone with a little practice and the tips we’ve put together for you on this list.

If you’ve just completed a grammar activity:

  • If you’re working with a new verb tense, you might ask your students to take the affirmative sentences in an activity and change them to the negative form, for example.
  • If you’re working with a new verb tense, you might ask students to take the sentences from an activity and change them to a different, previously learned verb tense.
  • Ask students to rephrase the sentences in the activity to say something slightly different.
  • Ask students to say one of the sentences again but this time, to include an error. Then ask other students to identify what the error is.

If you’ve just completed a vocabulary activity:

  • Ask students to use the new vocabulary in a sentence.
  • Ask students for examples, translations, definitions, or synonyms/antonyms of the vocabulary.
  • Ask students to search on their own for synonyms/antonyms of the vocabulary and invite them to share what they’ve found with the class.  Encourage them to try to substitute some of the new vocabulary words with the original vocabulary words from the activity.
  • Ask students to combine the new vocabulary with the grammar you’ve recently covered as well (Use one of these words in a present simple question, for example).

If you’ve just completed a listening activity:

  • Ask students to share all of the words/phrases they heard that are new to them. Elicit and/or confirm their meaning. Discuss.
  • Ask students to listen again and find an instance of a negative sentence/ past simple sentence/ phrasal verb/ infinitive of purpose/ preposition, or specific target language from the lesson or recent lessons.
  • Ask students to paraphrase or rephrase the script of the audio.
  • Ask students to build out more information to “extend” the audio sentence by sentence– what should/could come next when the audio ends?
  • Ask students to try their best impressions (openly invite them to imitate the speaker) of the speaker for a given sentence, phrase, or word to drill pronunciation.

If you’ve just completed a reading activity:

  • Ask students to identify instances of target vocabulary or grammar (from this lesson or previous lessons).
  • Ask students to make slight changes to sentences found in the reading– they can change the tense, whether it’s affirmative/negative, or the meaning.
  • Highlight words or phrases in the text and assign one or two to each student. Give everyone 2-3 minutes to search for a synonym, antonym, definition, translation, or example. Then, invite them to share their findings with the class and take turns using those new words (in the case of synonyms/antonyms) in the context of the reading.
  • Ask students to paraphrase the text or parts of the text using their own words.

Of course, these aren’t the only things you can do to extend an activity in a lesson, but it’s a great collection of ideas to start with. Try to implement one or two of these extensions in each of your classes for a week and see how your lessons improve! Take a look at some of the things you might notice about your lessons when you include some of these impromptu activity extensions:

  • Student talking time (STT) will be increased.
  • Students will be challenged to really analyze the target language they are interacting with. Great questions, interesting errors, and more creativity will result.
  • Students will potentially make more errors, giving you more insight into where to make clarifications and provide support.
  • Alternatively, students will demonstrate further understanding of the target language.
  • Students will be challenged to think on their feet and stay engaged throughout the class.  Since the instructions for your extension aren’t immediately visible in the slide, they won’t be distracted from your initial activity by trying to prepare for the extension activity.

Who doesn’t want students to speak more, be creative, and pay closer attention in class? Try a few of these extensions out in your next lesson. You can make a special note to yourself in your plan so that you’re confident you’ll remember where the extension should take place, what clear instructions you’re going to give, and how you’ll provide support or additional challenges so you can feel confident as you build this teacher skill step by step!

Time to reflect: What’s your favorite go-to extension to use in a lesson?  If you don’t have one yet, which from this list are you interested in trying?